Posted by: conferencebay | February 3, 2009

“The conference model is broken and needs a rethink”

Wise words, not spoken or written by anyone at Conference Bay (even though we agree with them partly) but by a columnist at the Financial Times in this weekend’s edition of the paper.

What he describes in his column (read the full text here:  is the difference between “Homo Conferencus” and “Homo Noninterestus”.  Basically, Brulee identifies 2 types of people visiting conferences and comes to the conclusion there is a lot wrong with the current model of organising these events.

As you know, Conference Bay has at the basis of its business model and beliefs that one of the most basic things that conference organisers could do differently is the pricing of the tickets for their events. In most cases an Early Bird discount and some group discounts are available, but customers nowadays expect something more sophisticated than that, having experienced how (budget) airlines and hotels price their similarly perishable goods.

Since its inception in September 2007  Conference Bay has been chipping away at reactions from organisers like “this is the way we have always done it” and “we do not offer discounts as we have a very high quality event”. In many cases, reactions such as these were followed a few weeks later by phone calls and e-mails asking us to help the organiser sell some additional seats. We believe that especially in the current economic situation conference organisers have a great opportunity to change the way they market and price their product. By asking people how much they are willing to pay for a seat they will not only get a much better understanding of the price point at which they would sell the optimal number of seats (from a profit point of view) but they would also be able to find out if there are price points at which they might be able to sell additional products (say a 3 hour or one day conference instead of the standard 2-3 days).

So when it comes to rethinking the conference model, Conference Bay is ready to help conference organisers to change one of the most important aspects of the marketing mix, namely the pricing dimension. We welcome any courageous and ambitious organiser to join us on this journey.



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  2. I agree – the days of charging $2500 for an event are over. We are trying out a new model that works like this – extremely low price for those who register more than 3 months out. The cost at this stage just covers our marginal expenses. Each Friday, the price goes up. This is appreciated by those in the industry and helps the conference as we get our required numbers locked up early on. Those who wait until the last minute will pay a big premium. Those who plan ahead basically pay for their food and materials.

  3. I read that FT article, and I feel like you and he are generalizing. You talk of price and not value.

    Is it possible that some conferences are worth more, and some less? Perhaps merely calling your product “high quality”, A. Doesn’t mean that it really differentiates the way you think it does, and B. Perhaps you’re not communicating the value.

    But if there are areas where one conference can be better than another, as suggested by Brule’s article here: is it also possible that there are ways to earn the $2500 in this economy?

  4. Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

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